The parable of the prodigal son reminds us of our inclination towards rebellion. It reminds us that left to our own devices we are, as Robert Robinson sang and showed in his life, we are prone to wander. We are not welcomed home because we have been good! Even those who are inside the Church, as the older son displayed, still need to be invited inside! Our hearts are sin-sick and always in desperate need of being welcomed by God’s grace close to him. But how can we take steps back home? Here is a suggestion based on verses 2-3 of Isaiah 55.
To repent is to feel or express heartfelt remorse over something wrong that we have done. It is the realization that we have transgressed God and have fallen short of His standard. We, therefore, experience contrition over our sins.
Our text begins with two questions meant to take us to repentance. The prophet asks us
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?
The picture here is of rebellious people who insist on their foolish ways, not realizing that their ways cannot deliver their desired results. If you were hungry you would not spend money on what is not bread! Neither can you work so hard to earn nothing! But that is exactly what God finds His people doing.
The situation is the same as Jeremiah decries in Chapter 2
“Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Jeremiah 2:11-13 ESV
To be welcomed Home we must recognize our own sinful rebellion and repent our waywardness!
The prophet then invites the people of God to listen. He reminds them twice that the key to obedience is listening to the instructions of the Lord. They must pay attention and hear God’s word. In fact, spiritual life and spiritual prosperity come through obedience to the faith. It is clearly written that if we listen then we will live!
Many people want to do well spiritually but are not willing to pay the price of being obedient to the word. We pay lip service to God’s word and yet want to feel at home in His house! We must return to hearing God’s word right if we want to live well! This is well captured in James 1:22
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 NIV
God then reminds His people that if they are faithful and obedient, He will reestablish the Davidic covenant with them. The Davidic covenant is the relational covenant that God established with king David. He promised David prosperity in the land and an heir to his throne for eternity. I am inclined to take the second part as the promise of salvation through the Messiah.
Thus if we return to God and obey Him we will enjoy our walk with Him. Our prayer should be as David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Psalm 51:12 ESV